Robert Burns’s excise dipping rods

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Exhausted from toiling in financially unsuccessful farming ventures, Robert used his influential connections to begin a career as an Exciseman in the late 1780s.

Excisemen were required to ensure that makers of whisky and beer were paying the correct amount of tax.

Burns became an Excise officer for Dumfries in 1789. He was promoted to the Dumfries Port Division in 1792, which included a pay rise. This allowed him to move his family from Ellisland Farm to a house in the town of Dumfries.

Robert worked for the Excise for the remainder of his life. The work was hard and often dangerous, with Robert travelling up to 40 miles a day on horseback across southwest Scotland.

Burns used these rods to measure the volume of liquids. The dipping rod is made up of six lengths, which fit together to form a large rod of 60 inches. It could measure up to 300 gallons of liquid.

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